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Danielle Paradis explores what makes Edmonton a great city.

Experience or Entitlement: The Hubris of Karen Leibovici

In case you don’t follow municipal politics or were struck with recent amnesia, Councillor Karen Leibovici’s mayoral campaign message is about two things: experience and leadership.

To underline the experience part, she published her resume to some fanfare and goaded her opponents to do the same. She came up with a mantra about how the city needs a doer, not a writer or blogger, as if Councillors Kerry Diotte and Don Iveson were fringe candidates, not her colleagues.

The apex of her war cry occurred when, at a fundraiser, she told an audience that the city would “grind to a halt” if she wasn’t elected.

Excuse me?

At what point does experience become entitlement and confidence become arrogance?

“The only candidate to keep our city moving forward,” according to herself, recently titled a press release “Leibovici: Only Candidate to Support Arts in Campaign.” Not only is that wholly untrue, but if you read it, you’d know a more appropriate title would be “Leibovici: The Only Candidate to Mention Preexisting Arts Support and Pretend it’s Her Idea.”

A more memorable act of political jockeying was her response to Iveson’s critique of property taxes, in which she said a property tax “leaves renters and low-income earners alone.”

Of course, when property taxes increase, landlords usually kick up fees and renters, regardless of income, shell out more for the same home. You would think that with all that experience she’d understand basic economics.

So fixated has she been on taking down her opponents’ visions that it’s not clear what hers is.

She’s a doer. OK. She doesn’t like red tape. Great. She thinks seniors deserve better. Who doesn’t? She will bring inclusion back to City Hall. Was it absent?

It doesn’t surprise me to see vapid posturing wouldn’t come from such an experienced person. This is hubris at work.

We’ve all witnessed the most accomplished person in the workplace act as if they don’t have to justify his or her views or offer specifics to move an idea forward.

Indeed, Leibovici’s decades in municipal and provincial government are impressive, and in June I would have told you that it made her the clear frontrunner. But as the polls have shown, the fire has fizzled.

My guess is it’s because she’s spent so much time on herself, or on the attack, that she lost focus of the other pillar of her campaign: Leadership.

Further, Leibovici’s constant attacking of her opponents’ inexperience, specifically Iveson’s, has lost her the under-40s crowd. And in Canada’s second youngest metropolitan city (median age 36) that will cost her more on Monday than perhaps she anticipated.

These disenfranchised voters are people who will tell you that experience isn’t everything, and that, when you lack experience, you’re forced to be more thoughtful, to have clear and inspiring ideas, and channel your confidence from these virtues.

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